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TWITIoT (This Week In The Internet of Things): Google and Microsoft and Nokia — Oh, My!

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Greetings, and welcome. This week, new developments for IoT device developers from Google, Microsoft, and Nokia. As always, your thoughts, reactions, and suggestions welcome – just send a quick email to And for more on the IoT and IIoT, check out “DortchOnIT’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Weekly.” Thanks.

Google Opens Up Android Things to All IoT Developers…

What Happened:Google made its Android Things operating system and development platform freely available to all interested builders of IoT devices.

  • As Engadget reported, Google first announced Android Things in late 2016, and made a preview of the toolkit available to “select developers.” This week, Google announced that it is now available to all developers.
  • Android Things is “a managed OS built for IoT manufacturers.” It is intended to ease and speed development by combining “tried-and-true tools like the Android SDK [software development kit]” with “regular stability and security patches that are automatically provided and enabled by default, which Google provides freely for three years.”
  • Developers can deliver software updates to as many as 100 devices at no charge. This enables them “to build and test their IoT device before they need to sign a distribution agreement with Google.”
  • Products built with Android Things are expected to become available as soon as the end of this summer. Developers with Google accounts can gain access and more information by signing up at Google’s Android Things Console

…While Microsoft Beefs Up Its IoT Tools, Technologies, and Partnerships…

Microsoft made several announcements of interest to IoT developers at its Build 2018 conference this week.

  • As ZDNetreported, Microsoft announced at Build 2018 that it is making its Azure IoT Edge Runtime software open source. “Azure IoT Edge is Microsoft’s cloud service that is designed to give users insights from the rapidly growing amount of data collected by simple sensors and computers situated at the edge of networks — without having to send that data for central processing.” Azure IoT Edge Runtime runs on each IoT device and communicates with Azure IoT Edge. Making Runtime open source is intended to make it easier for IoT developers to customize and debug their projects and offerings.
  • Microsoft is also partnering with chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies. The companies will collaborate on a “vision AI [artificial intelligence] developer kit that runs Azure IoT Edge.” That kit will provide “hardware and software required to develop camera-based IoT products.” The kit will also enable developers to “to build products using Azure Machine Learning services and take advantage of hardware acceleration using the Qualcomm Vision Intelligence Platform and Qualcomm AI Engine.” With these tools, developers can download services from Azure and run them on their “edge” devices.
  • Other announcements include a new Speech Devices SDK. This is designed to enable multi-channel audio processing “for more accurate speech recognition, far-field voice, noise cancellation and more.” Microsoft also announced that its Custom Vision “cognitive service” now runs on Azure IoT Edge. This means “devices like drones and industrial equipment can perform vision-related activities even when not connected to the cloud.” Microsoft executives said more such services are coming during the next several months.

…and Nokia Buys Its Way Further into the Industrial IoT (IIoT)

Finnish communications colossus Nokia announced that it has completed acquisition of California-based analytics startup SpaceTime Insight.

  • As Internet of Business reported, “SpaceTime Insight offers analytics services through its own IoT platform to clients in the transportation, energy and utilities sectors.” Current clients include Entergy, FedEx, NextEra Energy, Singapore Power, and Union Pacific Railroad.
  • SpaceTime Insight’s analytics and machine learning expertise will enhance Nokia’s Software IoT unit. In addition, Nokia will benefit from SpaceTime Insight’s “sales expertise and client relationships, along with a track record of IoT application development.”
  • As part of the deal, SpaceTime Insight CEO Rob Schilling will join Nokia’s Internet of Things product unit. That unit, which is part of Nokia’s Software business group, is already pursuing “smart home technologies, and forays into 5G connectivity and virtual reality.”

What It Means:When three of the most formidable technology companies in the world make significant announcements in the same arena, it’s – well, significant. Taken together, these three sets of announcements augur well for imminent major enhancements to the infrastructure and resources IoT and IIoT developers need. However, especially during these early days, some assembly is still required, batteries are not included, and your mileage may vary.

What You Should Do:To paraphrase multiple works of science fiction, “watch the skies” – or more specifically, the clouds.

  • Google will continue to build upon the popularity of Android and its cloud technologies among developers and users.
  • Nokia, its partners, and at least some of its competitors are driving development of the 5G networks that will deliver the speed and capacity Internet of Things and IIoT applications need.
  • Past Microsoft mobile and embedded operating system efforts have faltered. (See “Microsoft Builds an IoT OS – But Will Users Come?” in the premiere edition of TWITIoT.) However, the company is rapidly and profoundly reshaping itself. It is focusing less on Windows and more on Azure cloud services and what Microsoft calls “the intelligent edge.”

Whether your business is a current or possible maker or user of Internet of Things and/or IIoT solutions, make sure you’re paying sufficient attention to what these and other major technology vendors are doing. Success with IoT and IIoT initiatives will require agile combinations of multiple infrastructure elements. And you can’t wait for all of the vendors of all of those elements to figure out how best to work together on their own. It’s never too early to start figuring out what you need now, what you’ll need later, and how best to put it all together and keep it that way.

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Michael Dortch

Michael Dortch has more than four decades of information technology industry experience as an analyst, journalist, consultant, and marketer. He is currently a Senior Strategist for Huawei USA. In that role, he is focused on helping a world-class team tell more and better stories about how a world-class company helps world-class customers and partners connect and succeed.